Hard to believe, but the ill-fated Mary Nour, still stranded in the port of Altamira, Mexico after almost one year of inactivity could be about to be given her freedom.
After extensive wrangling with the local customs authorities, numerous court appearances, and various legal manoeuvres, ICR was told yesterday that a decision to release the ship could happen "any day".
In fact the ship must have become a total embarrassment to local customs officials who might now also be taking the view that they, themselves, have been badly duped over this whole affair.
According to local sources, the Mexican customs are now apparently rather anxious that they themselves do not come out of this affair penalised by the Mexican judiciary for arresting and holding the ship for such an extended period without due cause. As such, customs officials are again going through all the paperwork in minute detail, ICR was told, in order to make sure that they are not held to final account for their rather dubious arrest and detain procedures.
Meanwhile, the ships owners/cargo receivers have paid a number of fines relating to improper paperwork, and have also provided significant financial guarantees as part of a package of measures, all aimed at getting the ship finally released, and then for the matter to be settled by a higher Mexican court.
Commerce for Mexican Desarrollo (CDM) the cargo receiver and importer remains confident that they will eventually win such a legal case, which would involve massive levels of compensation, but in the meantime, are keen to get the ship released as quickly as possible, complete with its full cargo of some 26,000t of cement.
Owners for the Mary Nour, Jordan-based CTI Group, will also be breathing a sigh of relief to get their vessel released and trading once again, having missed out on some excellent shipping market conditions in the interim.
Scandalous rumours that the Mary Nour shipment had, all-along, secretly involved Italian market leader Italcementi, who was keen to exploit the tightly controlled Mexican cement market in response to earlier Cemex moves to enter the Italian market with a number of grinding stations, fed by imported Cemex clinker, must, of course, be totally discounted. As indeed must the latest news that Cemex has now sold such Italian grinding facilities back to Italcementi, which, coincidentally, now results in the imminent release of the Mary Nour. A total fabrication, we should stress, and one that has no merit whatsoever.